City guide to... Manchester
The Northern Quarter is still right at the centre of Manchester’s indie scene and is full of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants serving up great local beer. It’s also home to quirky shops, foodie spots, makers studios and intimate music venues, so it’s always worth a mooch. Some of our favourites include ice cream milkshakes at Ginger’s Comfort Emporium (upstairs in Aflecks Palace); grilled cheese at Northern Soul; and, browsing the art & craft goodies at Fred Aldous. It can all get a bit hectic at weekends mind you. Our advice? Escape the hoards and head underground to the cellar at Beermoth’s beer shop where you’ll end up sharing a few big bottles with… well, whoever you find down there! Then, scoot over to Rudy’s Pizza in Ancoats for some Neapolitan goodness, before finishing the night off at one of Manchester’s classic music venues, Band on the Wall.
Tucked in behind the City Art Gallery (which itself is definitely worth a look) Manchester’s Chinatown is one of our favourite places for food in the city centre. From the weird and wonderful Chinese buns at Wong Wong Bakery, to authentic Thai and Vietnamese street food at Siam Smiles or I am Pho, and hearty Japanese home cooking at Yuzu, we love it. If macro produced East-Asian lager ain’t your thing, BYO at Thai stalwart Phetpailin is always a winner.
Brewery Taps and Railway
Arch Parties - With something like 20 micro-breweries located within the city centre alone, Manchester’s Brew Tap game is getting stronger all the time. Traditional brewery tap pubs are now supplemented by a number of on-site tap rooms where local brewers open their doors at weekends. The most popular are located in railway arches close to Manchester’s two main stations:
Piccadilly - where the Likes of Alphabet, Beer Nouveau, Chorlton, Cloudwater, Manchester Brew Co, Squawk and Track are based and have recently been joined by local streetfood heroes Grub Manchester with their Mayfield and Fairfield Social Club venues.
Victoria – where Blackjack, the spiritual home of the ‘Brewtap’, throw a monthly party, and we at Runaway host weekly tours and tastings as well as a monthly supperclub. The Marble Arch (Marble’s Tap), and The Smithfield Market Tavern (probably our favourite pub in the city and Blackjack’s Tap) are also on the doorstep, along with the Pilcrow who regularly boast Cloudwater’s latest offerings on tap.
If you fancy a beery trip out of the city, both stations also form the start or end points for what has become known as a rail ale trail – otherwise known as pub hopping along the local railways.
We love markets – they always seem to give an instant insight into a city and its people. Greater Manchester’s home to loads of weekly markets, a number of which pop up regularly in the city’s main spaces (Spinningfields, Stevenson Square, St Anne’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens, Albert Square). The Mackie Mayor (the city’s old fruit and veg market hall) has recently been re-opened as a food and drink venue based around local, independent producers, and it’s a real treat, especially if you’re into beer. Further out, the ‘World Famous’ Bury Market seems to have black pudding on tap and almost everything else you could ever need; Altrincham and Stockport Market Halls are well worth a trip too, especially at weekends when there’s plenty of food and drink amongst the local maker's stalls.
The Burbs Chorlton and Didsbury
Jump on a tram and you can be out of the hustle and bustle of the city centre in minutes. Our usual escape means a trip to Longford Park (Chorlton) to throw a few frisbees around the trees at the all new disc golf course. It’s great fun – honest! Obviously, after all that strenuous exercise, it’s time for a beer and some food, and thankfully nearby Chorlton has some of the best places to drink in the city (A bar called Pi, Font, Beagle, Marble Beerhouse, Electrik, Dulcimer and The Parlour to name just a few). Then a spot of lunch on nearby Beech Road or a quick tram ride to one of our faves, Hispi in Didsbury for dinner.
This guide was originally printed in our 2017 Winter journal.